I’ve been shooting photos for my new book and it’s starting to take over my life — which is as it should be because I want this book to be beautiful and inspiring and, well, good. So no pressure then! We’re having a heatwave here in the UK so the last few weeks of shooting have been pretty intense but thankfully the Circle line has air conditioning so I’m planning my travels accordingly. Pro tip: avoid the Central line at all costs. It’s like sitting in hell’s kitchen.
This book is going to be a portrait of the city and with a population of 8.3 million I’m inevitably photographing a lot of passers by. I’ve never felt comfortable taking photos of people in the street, but the more places I go the bolder I get. Like actors in your own private play, people bring life and character to the shots. I’ve been fantasising about creating a Humans of London blog in honour of the wonderful Humans of New York, but the truth is, I prefer wandering the streets unobtrusively. I like to observe rather than interact.
Of course, when you have a 40 year-old Polaroid camera hanging across your body, you tend to become a people magnet. Each day I speak to at least five or six souls who are curious about the camera. I’ve chatted with policemen outside the Houses of Parliament, the old boy in Camden Passage and Jesse, the Spanish dude I met on the Southbank who insisted I take his picture. There was the girl in Chipotle who said she had a Polaroid at home, the charity worker in Islington who wanted tips on shooting at night, and Darren in Chinatown who was so inspired by the Vivian Maier film he was out snapping strangers.
You are never stuck for conversation when you’re shooting with a Polaroid. This is turning into quite an adventure…
Londontown: A Photographic Tour of the City’s Delights is available for pre-order over here